India’s wait for a second medal at the Tokyo Olympics has finally come to an end after boxer Lovlina Borgohain was assured of at least a bronze medal, as she roared into the semi-final of the women’s welterweight category after beating Chinese Taipei’s Chen Nien-Chin by a split decision.
The 23-year-old boxer from Assam, participating in her first Olympic Games, showed great technical acumen as she edged the first round 3-2 and then stamped her authority on the bout by making a clean sweep in the second round.
The Indian boxer was dominant in the final round too as she won it 4-1 to eventually win by a split decision margin of 4-1.
Lovlina has won two World Championships bronze medals and two Asian Championships bronze medals in the past.
Whatever be the colour of the medal eventually, Lovlina will become the second Indian woman after the legendary Mary Kom to win an Olympic medal. Mary Kom, who had won the bronze medal in the 2012 London Olympics, lost her round of 16 match at Tokyo on Thursday.
Vijender Singh won India’s first ever boxing medal, a bronze, at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Lovlina was aggressive to start with, followed it up with a tremendous counter-attacking game and kept her defence tight in the final three minutes to emerge triumphant against the seasoned opponent from Chinese Taipei.
“She stuck to the plan of counter-attacking and taking advantage of her height. She had tried being aggressive with this girl in the previous bout and lost. So this time, we told her ‘aap khade raho, usko aane do’,” national coach Mohammed Ali Qamar told PTI.
“And what a cool mind she displayed, never got excited. Never tried to barge in. She executed the plan to perfection. Had she tried to go on offensive, she would have ended up getting hit,” he said.
The youngster, who was laid low by COVID-19 last year and missed a training trip to Europe because of it, let out a huge scream after the referee raised her hand, pent up emotions finally getting the better of her.
Borgohain started out as a kick boxer before Sports Authority of India’s Padum Boro, while scouting for talent in Assam’s Golaghat district, noticed her.
He introduced her to boxing and she took to it like fish to water, winning a bronze medal in her debut world championship in 2018, following it up with another bronze the next year.
She is also a two-time Asian Championships bronze-winner.
India’s previous boxing medals have come through Vijender Singh (2008) and M C Mary Kom (2012). Both of them had won bronze medals and Borgohain would look to better that.
Earlier, Simranjit Kaur (60kg) lost to Thailand’s Sudaporn Seesondee in the pre-quarterfinals to make an early exit from the Games here.
The 26-year-old Indian, seeded fourth, went down 0-5 despite a gritty performance.
She was impressive in the opening round and seemed to have caught Seesondee on the back-foot with her measured approach, sticking to a counter-attacking strategy.
However, the judges ruled unanimously in favour of the Thai, causing Simranjit to be a tad reckless in the second round.
The Indian paid for the hyper-aggressive approach in the first few seconds itself when Seesondee managed to connect some eye-catching left hooks.
The defensive errors in the second put paid to Simranjit’s chances and even though she gave it her all in the third round, it needed nothing short of a demolition job to get over the line.
However, that was not to be as she bowed out following a unanimous verdict.
The 29-year-old Thai is a two-time world championships medallist and also won a silver in the 2018 Asian Games.